This year’s Rail Tech Europe 2021 event was held virtually in the form of a digital forum. For five days, the event covered all railway sectors, from how the industry can improve to attract passengers to the impact the pandemic has had on passenger numbers.
During two seminars, “What are the expectations after Covid-19?” and “Traveler behavior during and after Covid-19,” there was a discussion on the importance of attracting passengers back to rail travel and what to do to achieve this goal, as well as the shift towards more individuals preferring telecommuting over commuting to the office.
The introduction of new materials on train surfaces, such as handrails. It could increase passengers’ optimism about train safety; a new foil material containing silver and copper has been discussed, which researchers say can eliminate a large portion of viruses and bacteria that come into contact with its surface, a property that could increase passenger confidence in the safety of trains. It is extremely useful for surfaces that are touched by hundreds of different people throughout the day. It remains to be determined the most cost-effective mode of implementation for any potential introduction, as the economic impact, considering the value of the starting material, is significant. However, the benefits would be very significant.
During the pandemic, car travel has become more attractive, leading to a flourishing second-hand car industry. Many people have chosen to replace train travel with the comfort of their own car, which they consider to be safer.
Investigations in the Netherlands aimed at studying the shift from train to car have revealed that about 10% of participants have actually purchased an alternative mode of transportation, with 50% of this 10% doing so specifically to replace train travel.
This trend obviously means more vehicles on the roads, which presents congestion problems, and analysts expect that soon this situation will become unsustainable, making cars a less attractive mode of transportation, which could potentially cause a gradual return to rail services.